Study in Malaysia

Malaysia's international education sector has grown tremendously in the last decade and the country is fast becoming a centre of educational excellence in South East Asia. Malaysia is currently the world's 11th most preferred study abroad destination. According to UNESCO, Malaysia has captured a 2% market share of international students in the fast growing private education sector.

Malaysia currently has more than 80,000 international students from more than 100 countries. International students enjoy a safe and comfortable living environment with 21st century amenities, good healthcare and medical facilities, excellent educational institutions, and world-class recreational and sports facilities. Malaysia offers international students many options of quality education programmes at an affordable cost.

Why Malaysia

In addition, Malaysia is becoming a preferred country for foreign investment in the higher education sector. There are many foreign university branch campuses in Malaysia at present and more are expected to be established in the near future. The government welcomes foreign universities to establish branch campuses in Malaysia, particularly in Iskandar Malaysia's EduCity in Nusajaya (Johor) and Kuala Lumpur Education City (KLEC). Due to all these reasons, students want to study in Malaysia to further their dreams.

Country Facts

Malaysia is a Southeast Asian country occupying parts of the Malay Peninsula and the island of Borneo. It's known for its beaches, rainforests and mix of Malay, Chinese, Indian and European cultural influences. The capital, Kuala Lumpur, is home to colonial buildings, busy shopping districts such as Bukit Bintang and skyscrapers such as the iconic, 451m-tall Petronas Twin Towers.

Malaysia is a beautiful and diverse country with many highlights. The many different regions, each with their own characteristic features, make this country the perfect destination for tourists. However, Malaysia does not entirely depend on tourism. This country's economy has been going strong for years. On the contrary to what some people (still) believe, Malaysia is not a third world country. The country has developed itself enormously in the past 50 years and this is clearly noticeable when visiting it. Especially in Malaysia's capital, Kuala Lumpur, you will see many modern buildings, a modern light rail transit system, many luxurious shopping malls and countless expensive cars on the roads. Life outside of the capital is often less developed; but even there the times of people only being able to afford a motorcycle are long gone.

  • Capital: Kuala Lumpur
  • Dialing code: +60
  • Currency: Malaysian ringgit
  • Official script: Malay (Latin) alphabet
  • Ethnic groups (): 50.1% Malay; 22.6% Chinese; 11.8% Indigenous; 6.7% Indian; 8.8% other

Higher Education System

Education in Malaysia starts at Pre-School till the university level. The government undertakes the responsibility of a sound education system. Pre-Tertiary education (pre-school to secondary education) is under the Ministry of Education (MOE) and tertiary or higher education is looked after by the Ministry of Higher Education (MOHE). The Government aims at making Malaysia a centre of educational excellence.

Primary and Secondary Education in Malaysia

Primary education has duration of six years. Secondary education is of five years duration, which comprises of three years of lower secondary and two years of upper secondary education. It is a total of eleven years of free education.

The minimum age limit for admission to the first year of primary education is seven. Primary education is compulsory for all children aged between 7 to12 years. A common entrance examination is held at the end of primary, lower secondary and upper secondary levels.

Post Secondary Education in Malaysia

After the completion of secondary education, students can opt to pursue 1 to 2 years of post-secondary education. It is a preparatory course to pursue higher education at the university level. The basic entry requirement to the first year of Bachelor’s degree is the total of 12 years of primary and secondary education.

Malaysian government provides 95% of the primary and secondary education and 60% of tertiary education along with the private sector.

Malaysian Qualification Agency (MQA) ensures that quality education is being provided in all the public and private educational institutions

Tution Fees & Living Costs

One of many reasons why international students choose Malaysia is because of its cost-effective, high quality tertiary education. As an example, you can acquire a UK engineering degree (3 years) in Malaysia through a 3+0 foreign university franchised degree programme at an estimated RM68,000 (US$17,000), whereas the tuition fee of the same 3-year degree programme at the host university in the UK is about £36,000 (or RM217,000 or US$54,250). As such, a student can save up to RM149,000 (US$37,250) in tuition fees if he or she chooses to study in Malaysia (see Table 2.24). If cost of living is taken into account, students who complete their entire 3+0 degree in Malaysia can save up to an estimated RM216,000 (US$54,000).

The average international student should be prepared to spend about RM1,800 (US$450) per month for living expenses in the vinicity of a city.

The major components of education cost are:

Course fees which include tuition fees and other study fees payable to the institution, depending on what you are studying and the duration of your course/study programme

Living expenses which will depend on where you are staying, your type of accommodation and your lifestyle.


While the cost of studying in the USA and UK can be anything upwards of $30,000, its a paltry $9,000 in Malaysia. If that isn’t incentive enough, there are a host of scholarshipsavailable before students to study in Malaysia, which would bring down the cost further. Some of the prominent scholarships include the Malaysian International Scholarship (MIS) initiated by the Malaysian Government and the Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship Plan (CSFP).

Some of the benefits of MIS scholarship include:

  • Approved tuition fees
  • Medical/Health insurance
  • Annual grant for books and internal travel
  • Monthly maintenance allowance
  • Air fare for travel to Malaysia

In addition to government scholarships, individual universities also extend a number of scholarships to attract brilliant minds from across the world. University of Malaya, for example, offers Graduate Research Assistantship Scheme.